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Dr Prasad Akella

Founder & CEO


1 Rating

COBOTS Taking machines’ processing power to drive better human decision-making

Apr 14, 2021

…mentions Dr Prasad Akella, Founder & CEO, Drishti, which works towards amplifying AI-powered production and bring transformational change, in his interview with Anvita Pillai. He shares a first-hand experience on cobot evolution & its future, the year 2020 and more. Excerpts…

You are a veteran who has worked on the world’s first cobots at GM. Can you give us your take on the cobot evolution? How is Drishti taking this evolution a step further for manufacturing?

While leading the GM team that created ‘intelligent assist devices’, including cobots, I worked with line associates to better understand their jobs. I learnt various things about the manufacturing ecosystem: Manufacturing plants are extremely complex, so at Drishti, we look at systems instead of individual stations; despite a misperception that robots have taken, humans perform 72% of factory jobs, which are incredibly hard on their body. Hence, we focus on empowering and uplifting individuals. Lastly, the best equation in a factory is human plus machine. So, we’re taking the machines’ processing power and using it to drive better human decision-making.

The years 2020 & 2021, both were and are erratic. Were there any opportunities & learnings in the crisis for your organisation?

Despite the tragedy, inconvenience and cost of the pandemic, there were a few silver linings. During the early onset of COVID, our customers paused all buying to see what happened next. We used that time to accelerate our product development; for example, our neural network training time is 14x faster than pre-COVID, delivering results in days instead of weeks. Also, since our products give visibility and liberty to conduct business away from the line, there was a high demand in 2020, and it has really driven Drishti’s growth in the past 12 months.

How is Drishti a different experience in comparison to companies offering similar solutions?

We are vastly different from anything in the market. We are the only company in the world offering real-time analytics, insights on manual assembly lines and thinking about manufacturing systems instead of single manufacturing stations. We extract information from video streams while almost every other computer vision vendor analyses single frames. This is what lets us roll out across lines.

Can you elaborate on Drishti Trace & Drishti Flow? How is it a potent solution in a time where WFH is still prevalent?

Drishti Trace, a traceability solution, gives manufacturers live & recorded video streams and YouTube-like video searchability for root cause analysis, quality control and remote genba, among other uses. And Drishti Flow layers on AI-generated analytics from the video stream and converts those analytics to insights, like line balance, cycle variability, station histograms, etc. This identifies cycle time variances, eliminates production bottlenecks and rebalances lines, ensuring adherence to standardised work and more.

What is the long-term ‘Drishti’ for your organisation? Are there any collaborations/expansions in the pipeline?

I love that play on words! There were two reasons we picked this name. The first is obvious – computer vision is at the heart of the product and company. Second, we believe, with AI-powered production, we have a vision for what the future of manufacturing will be.

In the near-term, we’re looking to expand our footprint into EMEA and Asia while we continue to build our customer base in North America.

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